Heart Strings

Chapter Forty

At breakfast, Liam's phone rang, and he was excited to see the foreign area code.

"Da!? Is that you?" he nearly shouted into the phone.

"It is indeed, we're calling from Copenhagen, is your brother handy and me mam?" Connor inquired.

"We're all here Da, you're on speaker now," Liam told him.

"Grand, Terri's having a short kip before we go out again, but I wanted to catch you lot before you got off to school. Our mobiles don't work here so we bought a couple new ones and extra cards to feed them with. Mark down the number and share it with yer Shan and Danny. Are you all doing well?"

"We're getting along like bandits, Dear, the boys are so sweet, they don't let me do much housework except to cook something special. We're having a grand time together," Maeve put in.

"As it should be, you're not there as a servant, and what about the third member of your mob?" Conner asked.

"I'm fine Da, when can I talk to Mom, I miss her a lot," Danny's voice cracked a tiny bit.

"We've been invited to a party and we'll be out late tonight, we're nine hours ahead of you so we'll call when you get out of school after you get home. Probably about one a.m. our time four p.m. yours, you can talk to her then," Connor promised.

"Oh good, please tell her I love her and miss her a bunch, I miss you too but…" Danny trailed off.

"Quite alright little man, you've only the one mam," Connor reassured him.

"Thanks Da, I love you," Danny added.

"I love you all and I'll talk with all of you in a few hours," Connor replied.

"Love you Da," Liam chirped.

"And me, give our love to Terri won't you," Maeve requested.

"I will do, bye for now," and Connor disconnected.

"You okay, Danny?" Liam asked.

"Yeah, I just… we've never been apart for more than a couple of days before. I just miss Mom," Danny blushed.

"I understand Danny, you know how I get when Da's away, but they'll call this afternoon and that will make it a bit better I hope," Liam comforted.

"I'm sure they miss the two of you as well my dear ones, it's just as hard to be away from your children regardless of the reason," Maeve added.

"We should finish up and get ready to go, Todd and Darren said they'd meet us at the gate, Liam said as he walked to a window. "Bring a coat, it looks like it might rain.

"Why don't I drop you lads at school on my way to Pasadena?" Maeve offered.

"I can't say no to that, but why are you going to Pasadena?" Liam inquired.

"There are a few shops there I'd like to look into, a friend from home told me about them and I thought I'd take a look whilst you cram yer wee heads with knowledge," Maeve explained.

"Well, I hope you find what yer shoppin'  for," Liam smiled.

"We'll want to go to the Folk Center in town here, I'd like to pick up a new twelve string, they usually have a good selection don't they?" Maeve asked.

"They do Shan, I can introduce you to the owner. He's the grandson of the man that opened the place. He'll be right winded to meet you," Liam grinned.

"Well, let's leave introductions for afterward, I'd like to make me best deal first," Maeve requested.

"Oh sure Shan, I'll bite me tongue. Once they hear you play they'll know you're a pro."

"Fair enough, now let's get you two to your hallowed halls," Maeve chuckled.

Danny and Liam alit from the Landcruiser, Maeve had promised Connor to exercise it and she might have need of the space in the back if she was successful with her shopping.

The boys turned and waved as Maeve pulled away.

They were early so they chatted with a few other early birds. The gates opened but Liam and Danny waited for Todd and Darren to appear. More cars arrived and the mass of students began to clog the sidewalks. Mr. Hanlan urged the students to move away from the curb and lightly scolded a few who were not responding quickly enough.

Darren appeared with Todd on his heels and greeted Danny and Liam cheerfully.

"It's starting to rain a little," Todd announced. "We got a bit wet over by your old house Danny."

"Good thing you brought your coats then, I've seen lots showing up in t-shirts or hoodies, and they won't be much good if it really rains," Danny acknowledged.

"You guys up for hot chocolate?" Todd asked.

They agreed and made their way to the caf. Liam lagged behind to talk to Mike Hanlan.

"We're thinkin' of doing a little concert Friday at the long break and I wanted to ask if the school would object to pub songs and maybe Mountain Dew somethin' on those lines?" Liam asked.

"Considering some of the subject matter I've heard in those little performances, a few pub tunes wouldn't go astray," Mike answered.

"Okay, I thought I should ask. Cheri has already signed us up so we'll be practicing Thursday at ours."

Liam moved on to the caf and Mike stopped to speak with a small group of students.

"I've got your chocolate, Liam," Danny grinned.

"Thanks Danny, I stopped to ask Mr. Hanlan about pub songs and he said it would be fine."

Cyrus walked past and Liam called to him.

"Oh, hey Liam, I was sort of in my own little world, sorry I didn't notice you there," Cyrus replied.

"Everything okay?" Liam asked.

"Oh yeah, I was thinking of some tunes you guys might want to try. Maybe you already know them," Cyrus explained.

"Possibly, we can discuss that when we meet to practice, I presume you'll be joinin' us?"

"Oh yeah, Mom and Dad are cool with the idea."

"So how did an Iranian kid get into Irish music, if you don't mind me asking?" Liam inquired.

"Oh that, hahha! My last name is Iranian but I'm not. My dad was a Hennesy and Mom is a Mallory from Sligo. Dad was adopted by Grandpa Faraz after his dad died in an accident. Grampa was a very nice old guy and he taught me a lot about the world. Lots of people get confused by my last name. But I could ask you the same question about blues, jazz and Hawaiian music. I won't because I know the answer already, you have an open mind and you're interested in other cultures, right?" Cyrus probed.

"I fancy it so, I'd like to see others performing the music of their heritage; maybe our little concert will inspire a few people to bring their music forward so we can all enjoy it," Liam agreed.

"So, text me your address and Peter and I will be there Thursday after school. He was really hyped to be included," Cyrus beamed.

"We look forward to seeing him there, I've met him but we haven't chatted much," Liam replied.

"I have to get set up for my Chem class, we'll see you later on," Cyrus waved over his shoulder.

"Well, that answers that mystery, eh Danny?" Liam chuckled.

Guitar class was entertaining as usual. Most of the students had really embraced the new system and were becoming much better musicians. Some were considering taking another instrument during the next school year. A small few struggled and Liam, Gregg and Alex worked with them and got some results, but there were those students who didn't want to put in the effort to learn anything more complex than campfire songs.

It had been a busy few months and Liam and several others had done work with the newly formed chamber ensemble, a mix of guitar and orchestral musicians meant to showcase the value of music instruction in public schools. They had competed in and won a first at the Reed Walker Foundation competition.

Gregg really fit well with the ensemble and Liam thought he could excel there, so he decided to concentrate on things that interested him more. He remained one of the pool of upper tier guitarists and would take part if needed.

English class was a dawdle and Liam's reports and homework were graded well. His accent didn't extend to his writing although the difference in U.S. and U.K. spellings tripped him up on occasion. He had opted for mechanical drawing as his second quarter elective and was enjoying the process and showed some promise with his renderings of cones and spheres and other shapes that occupy the beginning weeks of the class.

He also had a Wednesday evening class to attend at the Luthier's Workshop. Danny had decided not to attend since he was only interested in playing guitars and not in actually building them. Tristan had signed up along with Alex and a couple of other boys from the guitar class.

Danny spent the afternoon with his Ceramics class and Geography & World studies, a class that linked the geography he'd already learned with cultural information about selected areas around the globe. He found it all fascinating.

With classes completed for the day Liam and Danny prepared for the walk home. They didn't dally because they wanted to be home for their parents call. Still, they took time to meet Cyrus' friend, Peter Vriesdahl.

"Hey Peter, nice to meet you. Cyrus tells me you're pretty good on the flute and penny whistle," Liam relayed.

"I'm not bad, I really like Irish music.  Our culture doesn't seem to have much in the line of interesting music, our folksongs are mostly instrumental. There are a few sad ballads and musical tales from the inquisition but it's kind of bleak. That's probably why I found Irish music so attractive. At least for singing, Flemish instrumental music is quite lively but it borrows from German and Dutch culture. We have bag pipes like the Irish kind and they use a bellows the same way, but they're different pitches and drones," Peter concluded.

"Is it true the Dutch and Flemish don't get along?" Danny queried.

"Well, it used to be more true than it is now, but the Dutch are kind of like the Americans of Europe, kind of loud and obnoxious at times. In Flanders the people are more reserved traditionally and mostly agricultural for centuries. Belgium is a funny place, in the south they speak a dialect of French and they call their area Wallonia but most people just identify by the city they live near. But that's just my ancestry, I'm an American and I just like music in general," explained Peter.

"I love learning about other cultures; I just started a combined Geography and Cultural Studies class, it's really interesting. I've always been interested in other cultures. I learned a lot from the Filipino kids in my old apartment building," Danny glowed as he often did when learning about a subject that fascinated him.

"Well, I think you'll like our little band of loonies Peter, we all are in it for the music. It's a great way to open doors," Liam said.

"I agree, did you see the suggestions I emailed you yet?" Cyrus asked.

"I've not seen it yet but I've not checked me mail all day. I'll shoot you back a tentative list, basically, I'd like to avoid Fenian songs, some of them are right good but they can send the wrong message. I checked with faculty and got the okay for pub songs and such, so we're good there," Liam advised.

"Okay, I can get that. I'll have a look at your list and we should be able to come up with a few to choose from; I guess it depends on how much time we'll have," Cyrus nodded.

"We'll have deli meats and rolls at the practice so you needn't worry about missin' dinner," Liam informed.

"I'm really looking forward to this, guys, Peter is too," Cyrus chittered happily.

"Sounds good, you've the address so we'll see you there Thursday afternoon around two if that works for you, eh?" Liam added.

Liam and Danny made their way to the path around the athletic field and bumped into Donny who was one of the small group that Cheri had described as trying to out-dumb each other.

"Hi um, it's Donny isn't it?"

"Yeah, that's me, you're Liam right?"

"That's right, this is Danny my brother," Liam told him.

"Oh, I didn't know that. Um… did you hear what happened to Dave Parker?" Donny questioned.

"No, I've heard nothing about him since a few days after the day he shot me," Liam frowned.

"He got hammered down in the detention hall, he'd been up to his usual shit and an older guy like seventeen kicked the shit out of him and he's back in the hospital. I heard it from Adam, his cousin is in the same place. You know Dave tried to get us to help him get you back, but we told him to fuck off. I ain't no honor student, but I'm not a punk or a thug you know. I just wanted to tell you that. I didn't know he would do what he did," Donny explained.

"Fair enough, I think you saved yerself some trouble; Dave would have probably got you put away same as him, he only seems to care about himself," Liam replied.

"Yeah, kinda what I thought, he was creepy and a little scary. I didn't think he was that weird though, I mean to try and kill someone. That's just fucked up! I think he'll be inside for a long time, and that's where he belongs," Donny uttered.

They reached the gate and Donny went left as Danny and Liam went straight across the intersection towards home.

They found Maeve dozing in an easy chair with her headphones on, listening to an audio book on her phone.

They tried to pass by without rousing her but she wasn't that out of it and turned their way.

"Hello lads, let's have a kiss. Are you hungry?"

"We thought we'd have a snack after we change so you needn't get up," Liam replied.

Okay, but I've a new recipe to try on you this evening so I'll be seein' to dinner, and no arguments," She clarified.

"Sounds good Shan, I look forward to it and I bet Danny does too," Liam acquiesced.

"Well, set yer taste buds for Beef Wellington, I've picked up all the makings and I've already browned the beef," Maeve informed them.

Danny nodded, "Let us know when you want the table set and we'll get it done, Shan," He bent and hugged her neck and Liam followed suit.

A little after four p.m. Danny's phone rang as they sat chatting in the family room. It was Terri and the first few minutes of conversation were between them alone. Liam and Maeve looked on in amusement as Danny's stress drained away. His mother was his link to the world or at least had been for years before Liam and then Connor, entered his life; but for a long time they were all the other had and it made them very close.

Liam and Maeve sat on either side of Danny and he put his phone on speaker so all could hear and speak with Terri and Connor.

The boys asked about the party and Connor explained that the invitation had come by way of admiring a beautiful 1934 Jaguar SS parked curbside at a café. The owner chanced to return and Connor spoke to him about the car and showed him photos of his Lagonda from the same era. The man was a Danish news and entertainment presenter and invited them to a dinner party. It turned out to be a mixture of people from entertainment, politics and science.

Terri met one of her favorite authors but they mostly talked about their children. Connor met a physicist that he had worked with in the past and they discussed the general state of research. Poets, musicians and actors were in abundance and most wanted to hear first about their impressions of Denmark and then the state of things in America. Connor had a unique view of American culture being an Émigré from the Irish Republic. Then there was a lot of chatter pro and con about the EU, Brexit and general trends in Europe.

"So, basically boring with occasional bursts of entertaining conversation. I was surprised that so many of the party goers spoke English, but Scandinavia is pretty forward looking in a lot of ways," Connor related.

Terri agreed and they asked what the boys had going on. Liam mentioned their planned concert in the quad on Friday and Danny added his enthusiasm. Neither of them wanted to mention Dave or his misfortunes in custody. Danny told them about meeting Peter and Cyrus and all the cool cultural aspects of the meeting. Danny now wore a serene look on his face. Liam grinned and snapped a photo of him before he could object. He sent the photo to Connor's phone with a note to show it to Terri later.

They all chatted for a good forty minutes before Maeve said she needed to get busy with the pastry for dinner. Liam shared Maeve's plans with Connor and Terri and suggested that, "He and Mom get some sleep, they looked exhausted on the screen. For whatever reason, the boys could see them but they couldn't see Liam and Danny. Just blurry pixilated shapes. Finally, goodbyes were said and Danny carried the phone in to his Shan so she could add any comments she had before disconnecting.

"Feelin' better then, eh Danny?" Liam pumped.

"Oh yeah, how do you stand it when Da is away, it must really get to you," Danny queried.

"Well, as you saw I don't do so well, that last time with Dave bein' a problem and all, me Da was sorely missed. Knowing he'd be back soon was all that kept me movin'. I've had more opportunities to get used to him travelin'. Terri's never been away from you has she?"

"Only once, when she went to see her aunt in the east. I stayed with a friend of hers but her kids were really little and I didn't know how to help and they cried all the time it seemed. I got so sad without her I just stayed in my little bed they made for me and cried a lot myself. I knew she had to go but it still hurt," Danny shared. Liam hugged him tighter and gave him a kiss on the temple.

After dinner which had been fantastic, they both read through Cyrus' email and compared notes.

Cyrus knew an Irish version of The Molecatcher and it was a song that Liam had always liked. Cheri and Amber were very keen on Tell me Ma, so that was one they had to do, Liam thought they could tag a reel to that one and really make it pop. Galway Girl had been a big hit at the reception with the extended instrumental afterwards; and How Will I Ever Be Simple Again could be plugged in after that to give the audience time to breathe. Seven Drunken Nights lent itself to appending another fast moving reel to the end after the somber nature of How Will I Ever Be Simple Again .

The old Mountain Dew song made famous by the Clancy brothers and Tommy Makem might do well and it could be stretched a bit. He thought the Irish Pub song would probably be a good closer. He would of course go over it with his fellow musicians; he wasn't inclined to be autocratic and figured that someone might have an idea he hadn't considered. He bounced his ideas off Danny and was told that it sounded good to him, but he was no expert and maybe it would be better to ask some of the guys who really knew about what they'd be playing.

Liam agreed and saved his tentative set list until he could confer with the rest of the people taking part. He wondered if all of them would be able to make it to the practice. They were all good enough to pick it up in an afternoon. He'd have to really work Amber to get her confidence level up. Brian worried him a bit, he was reluctant and that might mean his voice had given out on him, but he'd be welcome and Liam would make sure he knew that.

The boys showered, dressed for bed and were asleep before eleven. It had been a busy day.